"permaculture" a tainted word

Discussion in 'General chat' started by Ludi, May 16, 2012.

  1. Ludi

    Ludi Junior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2011
    Messages:
    779
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Permaculture seems to be a word with a lot of baggage. People are afraid to use the word "permaculture" because it has hippie connotations or because it sounds "too technical." How does the permaculture community respond to this problem, or do they mostly just ignore it?

    This mostly comes up at permies.com, I haven't seen it as much here, but a little, from folks who seem to want permaculture to just be some kind of organic gardening method...

    Anyway, just wondering how other folks deal with the "permaculture is a hippie religion" problem....
     
  2. gardenlen

    gardenlen Group for banned users

    Joined:
    May 14, 2004
    Messages:
    3,464
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    doesn't bother me ludi,

    i use the word though i do agree it comes with taints

    len
     
  3. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2007
    Messages:
    2,721
    Likes Received:
    7
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    inland Otago, NZ
    Climate:
    Inland maritime/hot/dry/frosty
    The PRI are doing work on this. They take the view that anything that isn't science based should be excluded from the PDC (and permaculture?). Craig has commented on the forum about this a number of times. There was a post on the main PRI page the other day about research and permaculture, and someone in the UK is doing a project on collating what research is already being done. Also, the PRI when they set up the global permaculture network online, have a category for PRI PDCs. This is because they control the content and make sure there is nothing metaphysical in them.

    So yes, there are some things being done. Where I live it's not such an issue in that we don't get that 'ewww hippies' response much* (well no more than the antipathy towards anything green from some parts of society). We probably have more tolerance of 'alternative' types here than alot of other places too.


    *although the infamous example was when the media were allowed to film people at a Green Party conference Morris dancing. That got a lot of ridicule, even from greenies. We've probably got past that now, but it was something that took a while to live down. Once you start getting mainstream media coverage it's very important how that happens.


    The too technical one is interesting. It can be hard to get people to understand why design is so important, as opposed to just picking a bunch of techniques that suit. Even hard core organics and other eco minded people sometimes have trouble with that one. For the technique stuff, I think demonstration sites are the best thing - either in person, or online, or in the media. For the design stuff, I'm not sure.
     
  4. Ludi

    Ludi Junior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2011
    Messages:
    779
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    I'm thinking maybe design can be demonstrated on site also, maybe a little less obvious than the techniques...
     
  5. treetopsdreaming

    treetopsdreaming Junior Member

    Joined:
    May 8, 2012
    Messages:
    45
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    As a newbie to this forum (and to the world of permaculture), I find this topic interesting...

    For me personally, how I identify with the permaculture "ideology" is similar to that of a political belief. In that sense, I first have decide whether I identify or not (which I do). Then, I need to decide where I fit on the belief spectrum - whether I am a little "p" or a big "P" - so to speak.

    Because my current knowledge is so rudimentary and because I am highly selective (in which concepts I understand and want to apply), at best I would consider myself a little "p". I find this position difficult, as I'm not certain whether the position is truly accepted (or valued) by big "P". Depending on the goals of the permaculture "movement" overall, I feel this issue (within the permaculture community itself) may also need to be addressed. I don't know that there are any easy answers - so, I'll just keep working in my garden :)
     
  6. Ludi

    Ludi Junior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2011
    Messages:
    779
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    There seems to be an idea that if you take a PDC then you can use the word "permaculture" to mean whatever you want it to mean.
     
  7. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2007
    Messages:
    2,721
    Likes Received:
    7
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    inland Otago, NZ
    Climate:
    Inland maritime/hot/dry/frosty
    Who is saying that Ludi?

    Treetops, I'm probably also a small p permie as I've not done a PDC and don't have enough mainstream permie experience to validate what I do. But I also don't consider that anyone else gets to tell me whether what I do is permaculture. Mollison set it up so that there was no enforcing authority, therefore we take the responsibility on ourselves and within our communities. This doesn't mean that permaculture can be anything, it's pretty obvious to me where the core of permaculture resides and why we should honour that (big P). But I think that small p permaculture will also continue to take permaculture in new directions that will evolve into other things, and that is good too.

    I also think it's valid for anyone to look at anyone saying permaculture and see if it really is, including myself (meaning, we should be able to talk about what permaculture is and isn't). Doing that with respect seems important.

    I do think the integrity of the PDC should be maintained though. How that can happen and allow it to still evolve I'm not sure. If anyone wants to use the word permaculture formally eg in advertising or business, then I think they should be practicing a fairly mainstream version of permaculture.
     
  8. Ludi

    Ludi Junior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2011
    Messages:
    779
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    "The bottom line is that once you take a PDC, you get to use the word permaculture on your stuff. I took a PDC. I have visited a lot of farms that say that they are doing permaculture and I really don't see it. But they took a PDC so they get to call it permaculture. That's the system. People that have taken a PDC can put bubble gum on the end of a stick and call it permaculture if they want. It is unfortunate, but that's the way it is."

    https://www.permies.com/t/6016/tinkering-site/third-ethic
     
  9. indigofera

    indigofera Junior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2012
    Messages:
    13
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I started a thread on a similar topic recently, but more from a personal level rather than a community perspective. Don't know if this helps you at all....

    https://forums.permaculture.org.au/...ermaculture-prejudice-how-do-you-deal-with-it

    I know exactly what you are talking about, and I don't know what the solution is!

    I guess it depends on what you are trying to achieve by using the word "Permaculture". For example, people like Jackie French and Joel Salatin use permaculture methods but don't openly identify themselves as permaculturalists. I don't know what their reasoning is, but I imagine they are trying to appeal to a wide audience and don't want to scare anyone off. Or maybe they see permaculture as common sense, and don't see the need to give it a label? I don't know, I'm just guessing..... On the other hand, some people are using the "P" word and making a huge success of it.

    I recently went to a seminar on organic farming that was targeted at and attended by many conventional farmers. The speaker started the day by giving a talk about "Gaia" - you could immediately see the farmers start squirming in their seats and many of them switched off and a few walked out. So perhaps the solution is to pick your target audience, and adjust your approach accordingly.

    Or perhaps just be yourself and as someone in my thread said "I'm happy being me. Bugger anyone else who thinks I'm weird! You may be able to grow a community around you - if you don't hide your light under a bushel other 'weird' people find their way into your life."

    I think permaculture is a very individual thing, that means different things to different people. For some it is simply a method of organic gardening and for others it is a design system for their lives and communities. For others it is a hippy religion that they will never understand or accept (and you can't make them).
     
  10. Ludi

    Ludi Junior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2011
    Messages:
    779
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    I don't know...I tend to think the word "permaculture" actually means something specific, that it isn't just whatever anyone says it is....I find words useful for communicating and if all words just mean whatever each of us wants them to mean, then it is very hard to communicate.
     
  11. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2007
    Messages:
    2,721
    Likes Received:
    7
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    inland Otago, NZ
    Climate:
    Inland maritime/hot/dry/frosty
    I see people making those kinds of statements from time to time, but I never know what they mean. Because they don't bother to explain. And with all due respect to Paul (and I do have alot of respect for his work), he's one man on one geographical location. When we have multiple examples, of people who see lots of places using the term permaculture but not actually doing permaculture AND we are told what that means, then we can worry. I also think this issue varies alot depending on what part of the world you live in.
     
  12. Ludi

    Ludi Junior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2011
    Messages:
    779
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    That messageboard is a pretty gigantic geographic location. :) Is it ok for people to think permaculture is just anything they want it to be? I guess is what I'm asking. Is permaculture whatever anyone says it is, or is it something specific? Is it bubblegum on the end of a stick?

    Does it matter?
     
  13. indigofera

    indigofera Junior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2012
    Messages:
    13
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I understand where you are coming from. However I think if there are too many definitions, rules and regulations on what is and isn't permaculture, then it almost becomes a religion in that it dictates what people should and shouldn't do. What they should and shouldn't believe. If permaculture is too institutionalised and defined, I think many people would start opting out.

    The beauty of permaculture as it stands is that is essentially accessible to everyone, and everyone is free to use it as it suits them and their communities. It has a freedom to it and it should be flexible so it can apply to all beliefs and cultures! Permaculture is kind of like a evolving organism anyway - you could define it in one place and and time and it could be something different in another place and time.

    Yes, there are some that abuse the term by using it when they are not technically applying the principles. Not sure what the solution is to that problem!
     
  14. Ludi

    Ludi Junior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2011
    Messages:
    779
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16


    Is this actually true? Does permaculture mean something completely different in another place and time? If so, does the word "permaculture" actually mean anything at all?
     
  15. gardenlen

    gardenlen Group for banned users

    Joined:
    May 14, 2004
    Messages:
    3,464
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    don't see that the word permaculture with all it means to different people, is a corporatised term, or has copyright or patent applied to the word.

    whilst ever the grass roots of our society the common man isn't interested in it then it will deliver little outside, the secular world of those permaculturists and it presents more like a religion than much else.

    science by and large has led us to the mess we are in, and they offer no real solutions, just speculative theoretical ones, so science won't deliver permaculture to the masses.

    len
     
  16. Grahame

    Grahame Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2008
    Messages:
    2,215
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Actually, I agree with you Len. I promise I won't make a habit of it though ;)
     
  17. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2009
    Messages:
    5,925
    Likes Received:
    9
    Trophy Points:
    0
    At the risk of getting all academic - 'Permaculture is the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive ecosystems which have the diversity, stability and resilience of natural ecosystems. It is the harmonious integration of landscape and people providing their food, energy, shelter and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way.' Bill Mollison - who should know because he invented it.

    Right after defining it he gives the Prime Directive - 'The only ethical decision is to take responsibility for our own existence and that of our children. Make it now." And then outlines the 3 Ethics - 1. Care of the Earth, 2. Care of People, and 3. Setting limits to population and consumption - often restated as 'Fair Share'.

    So if you can prove to me that bubble gum on a stick ethically benefits the earth, people or limits consumption - then I'll let you call it permaculture. If not, then it's just bubble gum on a stick.

    A herb spiral in a nursing home can be permaculture, if it is consistent with the ethics. Swales are a great way to increase water infiltration. But not every permaculture system will benefit from a herb spiral, or a swale (or both) - hence the wide variation as to what elements are considered to be or not to be permaculture.

    I think the word Permaculture has come to mean many things other than the above, other than what it is supposed to. That happens with words. I used to love Golden Gay Time ice creams when I was a kid, but now a good old gay time is something completely different! If people have a hang up about the word permaculture, then not using the word allows you to achieve good things without tripping over peoples hang ups - like getting kitchen gardens into schools, or Costa Georgiadis onto main stream evening TV (sorry to the non-Aussies who won't have a clue about who Costa is....). But there comes a time when you need to be upfront about what motivates you and call it what it is, or you start to sound like Amway salespeople. You know the sort - "oh it's a fabulous opportunity, you really should come to the meeting we are having. I can't tell you any more about it unless you come to the meeting...". (Apologies to any Amway salespeople too....)

    So yes - the word permaculture does actually mean something very specific!
     
  18. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2007
    Messages:
    2,721
    Likes Received:
    7
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    inland Otago, NZ
    Climate:
    Inland maritime/hot/dry/frosty
    Yes, and despite the fact that Paul does travel, I'm not sure that his views are representative of permaculture globally. Like I said, anyone who wants to make statements about how there are all these people using the term permaculture but aren't doing permaculture needs to explain what that means. I have no idea.


    "Is it bubblegum on the end of a stick? "

    Sorry, but what does that mean?
     
  19. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2007
    Messages:
    2,721
    Likes Received:
    7
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    inland Otago, NZ
    Climate:
    Inland maritime/hot/dry/frosty
    Science will deliver permaculture to the middle classes, and from there it will be taken seriously by some of the people with power - academics, politicians, people who gatekeep funding, schools, universities etc. Once permaculture seeps into those places then it will effect society as a whole. I also hope that permaculture will continue to be taken up by the people of conscience who don't hold power or aren't bothered about the science.
     
  20. gardenlen

    gardenlen Group for banned users

    Joined:
    May 14, 2004
    Messages:
    3,464
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    only trendy middle classes, not the majority of middle class either.

    len
     

Share This Page

-->